- South Africa beat New Zealand 12-11 in a dramatic final to clinch a record fourth Rugby World Cup in Paris, France
- In a Rugby World Cup that has treated to us some of the greatest matches, the final provided the most fitting of conclusions
South Africa beat New Zealand 12-11 in a dramatic final to clinch a record fourth Rugby World Cup in Paris, France. Four Handre Pollard penalties to two from Richie Mo’unga gave South Africa a 12-6 first-half lead at Stade de France. Pollard, who scored all of South Africa’s points to win the Webb Ellis trophy, was only called into the squad as a replacement.
New Zealand did well in the second half but the Springboks produced a magnificent defending to win the match. Sam Cane caught Jesse Kerl high in the 27th minute to become the first player to be shown a red card in a Rugby World Cup final.
Only a single yellow card had been shown in nine previous World Cup finals. However, the crackdown in foul play in the match led to four being handed out during the 80 minutes of play in front of a crowd of 80,000 at Stade de France.
Speaking after his side won the World Cup title, South Africa captain Siya Kolisi paid tribute to New Zealand for fighting hard despite being a man down.
“They took us to the end, they took us to a dark place. It shows what kind of team they are, to fight with a man down from early in the game. They put us under so much pressure. We lost our hooker in the early part of the game and had to adjust … somehow we found a way.” Siya Kolisi said, as per rugbyworldcup.com.
Following his team’s loss to South Africa, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said the champions are a quality team. Foster’s four-year reign as New Zealand’s coach ends within a whisker of the ultimate prize. The 58-year-old came under pressure in the build-up when his team dipped below their usual high historical standards.
“To go down to that red card so early and fight our way back and give ourselves a chance is pretty special. To get within a whisker of pulling it off is heartbreaking. We have to give it to South Africa, they are a quality team. They have had a few close victories in this tournament and are a different class. It’s special for them but it equally hurts for us.” Ian Foster is quoted by rugbyworldcup.com.
In a Rugby World Cup that has treated to us some of the greatest matches, the final provided the most fitting of conclusions. Both South Africa and New Zealand entered as three-time winners of this tournament and were looking for a fourth title. The Springbok’s latest victory means the Springboks have won half of the eight tournaments they have participated in.